For the past two seasons, the Missouri baseball team has been picked ninth in the Big 12 Conference in the preseason coaches’ poll. MU exceeded expectations both years, finishing fourth in 2002 and reaching the Big 12 title game last year.
Despite reaching the NCAA Regionals both seasons, the Tigers are only gaining marginal respect in the conference. This year, the coaches picked them eighth. Coach Tim Jamieson said he expected another good result this year.
“We feel confident,” he said. “The last couple of years have given our kids an expectation level as well as the confidence they need to succeed in the Big 12, and hopefully to play beyond the Big 12.”
The Tigers lost the core of their line-up and of their pitching staff. Cody Ehlers, who hit .364 with 18 home runs, and Garrett Broshuis, 11-0 with a 2.61 ERA, were both selected in last year’s Major Leauge draft. Jamieson will plug holes with junior-college recruits and players who haven’t seen significant time in past seasons.
“The talent level this year is probably better than it was the last couple of years, but we lost some experience,” Jamieson said.
He also said he wasn’t concerned with preseason rankings.
“Two years ago, nobody thought we were going to do a whole lot, and last year nobody thought we were going to do a whole lot,” he said. “But we do need to prove ourselves.”
TEXAS ACE OUT: Texas, which was picked No. 1 in the Big 12 and is also ranked first in three national preseason polls, got some bad news this week: Junior right-handed pitcher Sam LeCure, a Hickman High School graduate who was 9-3 last year and expected to be the Longhorns’ No. 1 starter, will not play this season.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, a federal judge would not allow LeCure readmission into the university. The paper also reported that LeCure was on academic probation last semester and earned a grade point average less than 2.0, prompting the school to dismiss him.
Texas coach Augie Garrido said he would replace LeCure in the starting rotation with left-hander Buck Cody, who came out of the bullpen last year. Garrido said he thought his team would survive the loss.
“We have what we think are the ingredients for (a championship),” he said. “We feel that the pitching staff will be able to perform its role at a consistent and high level.”
JAYHAWKS’ SEASON UNDERWAY: Three Big 12 teams begin their seasons today: Oklahoma State hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 4 p.m., Texas plays at San Diego State at 8 p.m., and Kansas travels to Hawaii-Hilo for a game at 11 p.m.
The Jayhawks return seven players who hit better than .300 last season, but coach Ritch Price is more excited about his pitching staff, which was bolstered with Kodiak Quick, a transfer from Stanford.
“We finally think we can pitch all three days of the weekend in the Big 12 conference, which we’ve not been able to do,” Price said.